Delaware - Settlements

The foraging Lenape had no permanent settlements and no villages, and the "Jerseys" in the historic period may have had a similar settlement pattern. The Munsee built small villages similar to those of the Iroquois. Each Lenape band dispersed into nuclear family units for winter hunting. In the spring these families regathered at a summer station near the mouth of the stream that served as the focus of their band's territory. About a dozen such bands can be recognized, each averaging nearly twenty-five members. All the various Lenape bands gathered in late fall for annual renewal rites, just before dispersing for winter hunting. Families or individuals often operated alone even in aboriginal times, and after 1675 this pattern of independence and entrepreneurial activity became pronounced.

From several historic descriptions we know that each aboriginal Lenape family lived in a wigwam, less than nine feet in diameter and under five feet high. The walls were formed from thin bent poles tied at the top. These were covered with bark and grass, as well as with mats woven from reeds. A hearth area occupied the center of the floor area. Such shelters must have served the Lenape traditionalists well into the nineteenth century, although those Lenape who were becoming more sedentary were building cabins as early as the late eighteenth century.

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